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Work, Repair, Cars, Phenomenology, Material Interaction

Evaluating an Empowering Research Strategy: Reflections on Action-Research with South Asian Women

Alison Bowes
Sociological Research Online 1 (1) 1

Keywords: Action-Research; Anti-Racism; Asian Women's Action Group (AWAG); Community Work; 'Crossroads' Project; Empowerment; Feminist Research; Glasgow
Abstract: Anti-racist sociology, feminist sociology and action-research share a concern with empowerment of 'the researched'. A review and critique of the concept of empowerment in anti racist, feminist and action research is used to argue for the use of Strauss's 'paradigm' for study of the negotiation of power in the research process. Power negotiations are discussed in relation to a reflexive case study of an action-research project which worked alongside South Asian women in Glasgow. The case focuses on the project set up, which was aimed at intrinsic empowerment, then on the community action which tried to respond to local concerns, and finally on the experiences of two researchers in the project. In conclusion, it is argued that empowerment, rather than an unquestioned, universally desirable goal, remains an issue for continuing debate.

'Evaluating an Empowering Research Strategy: Reflections on Action-Research with South Asian Women'

Alison Bowes
Sociological Research Online 1 (1) 1

Keywords: Action-Research; Anti-Racism; Asian Women's Action Group (AWAG); Community Work; 'Crossroads' Project; Empowerment; Feminist Research; Glasgow
Abstract: Anti-racist sociology, feminist sociology and action-research share a concern with empowerment of 'the researched'. A review and critique of the concept of empowerment in anti racist, feminist and action research is used to argue for the use of Strauss's 'paradigm' for study of the negotiation of power in the research process. Power negotiations are discussed in relation to a reflexive case study of an action- research project which worked alongside South Asian women in Glasgow. The case focuses on the project set up, which was aimed at intrinsic empowerment, then on the community action which tried to respond to local concerns, and finally on the experiences of two researchers in the project. In conclusion, it is argued that empowerment, rather than an unquestioned, universally desirable goal, remains an issue for continuing debate.

Teams as Author: Narrative and Knowledge Creation in Case Discussions in Multi-Disciplinary Health Teams

Sociological Research Online 2 (3) 5

Keywords: Effectiveness; Multi-Disciplinary; Narrative; Post-Modern; Qualitative Methodology; Team Work
Abstract: Narrative has been described as a universally used means for ordering experience. Although the narratives of medical teams have received recent attention, those produced by health professionals in multi- disciplinary health care teams in the course of their everyday work in team reviews and case discussions about service users have not. This paper, then, presents a discussion of an under-investigated area of narrative in the social sciences. The analysis is developed from the narratives produced during team reviews conducted over several weeks about 2 users - one a quadriplegic, the other, a psychiatric patient in a medium secure unit. The major issues with which the paper is concerned are: (i) the identification and explanation of significant differences between the narratives produced by medical and multi-disciplinary teams; (ii) the identification of a suppressed dimension (both in the literature on health care teams, and in the practice of these teams) on the management of difference in the development of complex multi-disciplinary team narratives; and (iii) how members of MD teams work with the different professional knowledges represented by their members. The final section of the paper defines team work as primarily a process of knowledge work and knowledge creation, and it discusses some of the organizational conditions which facilitate such work.

Power, Professionalism and Organisational Transformation

Christopher May and Mary Eleanor Buck
Sociological Research Online 3 (2) 5

Keywords: Community Care; Identity; Implementation; Management; Organisation; Power; Professionalism; Resistance; Social Work; Transformation
Abstract: Utilising data drawn from a study of a social service organisation, this article aims to understand the relationship between the rationale of organisational transformations and the professional status of social workers. It contains an examination of the original aims of Community Care legislation, its translation by management into processes of re-structuring and alterations in job specification, as well as the perspectives of those at the front-line of the organisation. This enables a theoretical consideration of organisational transformation and power and their relationship to the identity of social workers.

Gender Differences at Work: International Variations in Occupational Segregation

Jennifer Jarman, Robert M Blackburn, Bradley Brooks and Esther Dermott
Sociological Research Online 4 (1) jarman

Keywords: Census/Survey Data; Cross-National Trends; Employment; Employment Patterns; Gender Inequality; Methodology; Occupations; Social Division of Labour; Sociology; Work
Abstract: Despite the prominence of discussions of gender segregation in explanations of labour market inequalities, there have been relatively few cross-national studies due to a lack of suitably detailed data. A recent ILO initiative obtained suitable data for cross-national analysis of 38 countries, with a much greater number of occupational categories than has usually been available. This paper reports findings from the analysis of these data. The problems and potential of using such data are discussed and a standardisation is introduced to control for the effects of the number of occupations in the segregation measure. There are important differences in the level of segregation in different countries. The highly segregated countries are to be found in Western Europe, and in particular Scandinavia. Several Arab countries also have high levels of segregation. An argument is made suggesting that the context and meaning of segregation patterns may be quite different from what might be inferred from single country studies.

Token Salaries and Social Answers in Work Relations in Africa

Massimo Repetti
Sociological Research Online 4 (2) repetti

Keywords: Informal Economy; Senegal; Social Networks; Urban Work; Weak Ties; Work Relations
Abstract: In Dakar, faced with crisis and uncertainty, social answers begin to appear. Only those having a supportive social network could find a place in the labour's market. The observation of the daily routine of any of Dakar's micro-businesses and its social aspects, reveals the wide area of interference that exists between waged worker and the relation networks with family and relatives, ethnic groups and Muslim brotherhoods. The urban economy is supported by a network of family, alliance, and client relations. The overlap existing between waged and unwaged work can be understood only by looking closely at the network of social ties present outside the production site. Switching from the analysis of urban work relationships in Africa to the analysis of social networks is almost spontaneous, because a system of relational actions and strategies grows around the figure of the worker. The importance of the "strength of weak ties" in procuring employment is as a whole confirmed, but African sociability creates an intense inter-network relational interchange. Dakar's urban space feeds a "popular economy" where social networks and the gift-giving logic co-exist with market economy. This economy utilise different wage embryos or tokens salaries for each of the social players.

Heritage Work: Re-Representing the Work Ethic in the Coalfields

Tim Strangleman, Emma Hollywood, Huw Beynon, Katy Bennett and Ray Hudson
Sociological Research Online 4 (3) strangleman

Keywords: Coal Industry; Ideal Types; Industrial/Social Redevelopment; Miners; Occupational Identity; Stereo Types; Work Ethic.
Abstract: This paper aims to discover how, with the decline and ending of the deep coal mining industry in many parts of the UK its legacy is being re-evaluated by those involved in various aspects of economic and social regeneration. It opens by exploring the way coal mine workers and their communities have been seen within popular and academic accounts, and in particular the way this group has been subject to ideal typification and stereo-typing. The main body of the paper examines the way this legacy is still subject to such interpretation, and that further, the specificity of the coal industry is commodified in a variety of ways. We point out the contradictory nature of this process and argue that it is inevitably damaging to a complex analysis of the deep problems facing former coalfield areas.

Plans, Evaluation, and Accountability at the Workplace

Ilpo Koskinen
Sociological Research Online 4 (4) koskinen

Keywords: Conversation Analysis; Ethnomethodology; Management; Organization; Planning; Workplace
Abstract: This paper is based on an ethnomethodologically informed analysis of plans by Dant and Francis (1988). Using ethnographic and conversation data, this paper will argue that although plans do not ordinarily organize action at the workplace in the sense proposed by rationalistic viewpoints on planning, planning does have one key managerial use that has scarcely been dealt with in previous research. Managers often formulate and systematize their vision of the workplace using plans and categories found in plans, and they simultaneously formulate the workplace's activities as sanctionable. This result is discussed.

What Difference does it Make? Women's Pop Cultural Production and Consumption in Manchester

Nicola Richards and Katie Milestone
Sociological Research Online 5 (1) richards

Keywords: Cultural Consumption/production; Cultural Industries; Employment; Femininity; Gender; Masculinity; Popular Music; Working Practices
Abstract: This paper explores the experiences of women in small cultural businesses and is based upon interviews with women working in a range of contexts in Manchester's popular music sector. The research seeks to promote wider consideration of women's roles in cultural production and consumption. We argue that it is necessary that experiences of production and consumption be understood as inter-related processes. Each part of this process is imbued with particular gender characteristics that can serve to reinforce existing patterns and hierarchies. We explore the ways in which female leisure and consumption patterns have been marginalised and how this in turn shapes cultural production. This process influences career choices but it is also reinforced through the integration of consumption into the cultural workplace. Practices often associated with the sector, such as the blurring of work and leisure and 'networking', appear to be understood and operated in significantly different ways by women. As cultural industries such as popular music are predicated upon the colonisation of urban space we explore the use of the city and the particular character of Manchester's music scene. We conclude that, despite the existence of highly contingent and individualised identities, significant gender power relations remain evident. These are particularly clear in discussion of the performative and sexualised aspects of the job.

Writing about Health and Sickness: An Analysis of Contemporary Autobiographical Writing from the British Mass-Observation Archive

Helen Busby
Sociological Research Online 5 (2) busby

Keywords: Autobiographical; Health; Mass-Observation Archive; Narratives; Sickness; Work
Abstract: In this paper, I explore some of the writing about health and sickness undertaken by volunteers writing for a British social history archive. The Mass-Observation Archive's commissioning of diaries and other forms of self-reportage has made it a prominent part of the landscape of sociology in Britain (Calder, 1985). Initiated during the 1930s, the Mass- Observation Archive's early work included the well-known worktown project. The early project was wound up in 1950, but interest in the archives eventually prompted a new project, initiated in 1981. The 'new project' is essentially a collection of writing on a range of issues by a panel of volunteers recruited through the media and other informal means.This paper represents a cycling through of ideas about the relationships between health, sickness, and work, via my reading of some of the writing held at the Archive. The writings with which this paper is centrally concerned are the responses to an invitation issued in the autumn of 1998 for writing about 'Staying well and everyday life'. In addition, writings on 'The pace of life' and on working life were consulted. Unlike much of the data about sickness in relation to work - which relies on documentation of sickness absence- these accounts show actions which are not taken. Some of them point to a phenomenon which I have termed 'shadow sickness, that is illness which exists without there being a mechanism to translate that experience into recognised sickness. Overall though it is the moral context of illness and of ideas about staying well which are prominent in many of these accounts and which are discussed in this paper.

The Class Situation of Information Specialists: a Case Analysis

Clare Lewin and Myron Orleans
Sociological Research Online 5 (3) lewin

Keywords: Class; Critical Theory.; Discourse; Empowerment; Micro-class; Mode Of Of Consciousness; Phenomenology; Qualitative; Stratification; Technocratic' Authority
Abstract: This paper examined the paradoxical class situation of information specialists in the post-industrial society as both professionals and employees. We described and analyzed the 'technocratic' authority wielded by them and their mode of consciousness. We assessed whether these workers functioned as the vanguard of a new style of democratized work or buttressed the position of managerial authority. We used qualitative methods to study the social conduct and meaning systems of fourteen computer specialists, including programmers, analysts, and project leaders employed in a large insurance company. The data was analyzed using a critical phenomenological perspective derived from the work of authors such as Berger, Braverman, Burawoy, Foucault, and Marcuse. We found that the subjects experienced a class situation that was somewhat more empowered than the industrial or corporate models, but did not differ substantially from that of the production workers in industrial society. Their power, prestige, privilege and status essentially camouflaged the subjects' compliance to hierarchical authority. The subjects exhibited awareness of their power but essentially directed their energies toward task attainment and individual mobility. Lacking an orientation toward structure change, the information specialists did not appear to fit the notion of a vanguard group. From this research we foresee some possibilities of changes within organizational authority as information specialists confront management with their expertise, but we anticipate that the institutions of social domination will prevail.

Changing Places: Privilege and Resistance in Contemporary Ireland

Pat O'Connor
Sociological Research Online 5 (3) oconnor

Keywords: Friendship; Identity; Ireland; Organisation; Paid Work; Patriarchal Dividend; Power; Resistance; Transformation; Whistle Blowing Blowing
Abstract: This paper explores the reality of patriarchal privileging and resistance within a society which has undergone dramatic change over the past twenty-five years. Using Foucault's ideas of power and resistance (1980; 1988; 1989) and Connell's ideas of the patriarchal dividend (1995 a and b) it first explores these key concepts. It then draws together a wide range of empirical evidence to document the ongoing reality of patriarchal privileging in the world of paid work and the family in Ireland. It then however identifies and illustrates fourteen analytically different types of resistance including the creation of an alternative power base in the family; facilitating the emergence of new child rearing structures; naming the 'enemy within'; naming aspects of culture which are not 'woman friendly'; whistle blowing; targeting key structures; negative power etc. It concludes by suggesting (drawing on Acker, 1998) that although the institutional structures reflect the needs and wishes of powerful men, choices can still be made by individual men and women.

The Whispering Shadow: Collectivism and Individualism at Ikeda-Hoover and Nissan UK

Carol Stephenson and Paul Stewart
Sociological Research Online 6 (3) stephenson

Keywords: Conflict; Consensus; Individualism; Lean-labour-process; Varieties Of Collectivism; Work Non-work Associations.
Abstract: Despite recent interest in the character of individual dissonance in the workplace less attention has been given to the nature of collectivism in the context of restricted trade union behaviour. While findings on conflicts associated with collective practices have been given reasonable space these have tended to focus on the association between collectivism qua trade unions and the presence or absence of conflict. Moreover, where the relationship between conflict and individualism provide the focus of study, this often serves to herald the demise of forms of collectivism or collectivism in general. The paper identifies three forms of collectivism in two Japanese manufacturing plants. These are; 'trade union collectivism'; 'work place collectivism' and, the 'social collectivism of everyday life'. By moving away from the conflict-consensus polarity, the intention is to shift the terms of debate over the nature of individualism and collectivism in the context of LLPs. The perceived conceptual and empirical gap is not to be closed by highlighting only incidents of dissonance, whether individually or collectively construed.

Confidence Amid Uncertainty: Ambitions and Plans in a Sample of Young Adults

Michael Anderson, Frank Bechhofer, Lynn Jamieson, David McCrone, Yaojun Li and Robert Paul Stewart
Sociological Research Online 6 (4) anderson

Keywords: Forethought; Planning; Ambitions; Uncertainty; Life-course; Work; Housing; Partnership; Childbearing
Abstract: The limited and sometimes contradictory published literature, mostly relating to younger age groups and non-British societies, suggests that planning and a longer time perspective are inhibited by economic insecurity, by tight structuring of the life course, and a track record of failing to achieve ambitions. This paper uses survey data, backed by qualitative interviews, to investigate planning and forethought in a sample of young adults in the Scottish town of Kirkcaldy in the late 1990s. Responses are compared with those of older age groups and of people of the same age twelve years earlier. Economic insecurity and failure to achieve ambitions had been seen by our older respondents as particularly characteristic of the lives of young adults. However, in spite of considerable sense of insecurity, the young adults we studied do in general feel in control of their lives, and do have well articulated ambitions and plans to achieve them with respect especially to work and housing. Indeed, conditions of modern life almost force many to seek to plan to some degree in these areas. Forethought and an element of planning, albeit often quite provisional in its nature, seems actually to provide some sense of security in an uncertain world. Respondents also show considerable commitment to future childbearing and partnership, though past experience of entry to both has often been fairly haphazard and there is evidence of cultural resistance to overly rational planning in such areas. Failing to achieve ambitions in the past does not affect ambitions but does limit willingness to plan for the future, especially for the long-run. Poverty and job insecurity, and also the presence of children, inhibit planning, in some cases to extreme degrees.

Nostalgia for Nationalisation - the Politics of Privatisation

Tim Strangleman
Sociological Research Online 7 (1) strangleman

Keywords: Government Policy; Nationalisation; Neo-liberal; Nostalgia; Privatisation; Railtrack; Railway Industry; Railway Workers
Abstract: This article reviews the current problems of the UK railway industry and in particular the effective re-nationalisation of Railtrack by the government during 2001. The present state of the industry is placed in the context of the process of privatisation, and of the historical development of the sector. It reviews the current literature and media debate that deals with rail privatisation.

Attacking the Cultural Turn: Misrepresentations of the Service Encounter

Steve Taylor
Sociological Research Online 7 (1) taylor

Keywords: Employment; Service Work; Service Encounter; Cultural Turn; Structural Dynamics; Subjectivity; Gendered Emotional Labour; Class Relations; Representation
Abstract: Service work is often (mis)represented within western sociology through hyperbolic language, as its increasing incidence and changing character is seen as symptomatic of profound social change. This paper argues that many recent empirical investigations into, and the dominant representations of, the service encounter (employment involving employee-customer interaction which is represented as a particularly 'new' form of work) exaggerate its novelty as 'cultural' work. Through a critical analysis of some recent empirical accounts of the service encounter and drawing upon one example from the author's own ethnographic research into service encounters within north-eastern England, it is argued that the dominant representations over-emphasise the cultural, and underplay both the economic and gendered, dynamics of the employment experience. More specifically, we argue that it is the active combination of 'the economic' and 'the cultural' - the way in which gendered demands for employees to develop particular norms, values, personalities and identities are embedded within inequitable economic relationships - which can shape the employment experience of service employees. Dominant representations of the service encounter also reject the contemporary relevance of 'traditional' industrial sociological analyses of employment relations. However, given the weak empirical foundations of 'the cultural turn', we argue that this contention cannot be supported. In fact, it is suggested that many 'traditional' industrial sociological analyses precisely examine the interplay between economic, gendered and cultural relations and therefore continue to have relevance for understanding contemporary employment. Finally, our arguments are located within debates about the cultural turn within the wider sociological discipline.

Dealing with Dirt: Servicing and Repairing Cars

Tim Dant and David Bowles
Sociological Research Online 8 (2) dant

Keywords: Cars; Dirt; Material Culture; Sociology Of Work; Video Data
Abstract: This paper explores the significance of dirt in the work of technicians who service and repair private cars. Rather than being useful in understanding how dirt is dealt with, the historical and anthropological analyses of dirt are shown to be overly concerned with cultural significance and the idea that dirt is no more than 'matter out of place'. Such accounts suppress the more common sense approach that dirt is unpleasant to human beings and is to be avoided if possible. In work such as garage servicing and repairs, dirt has to be confronted and dealt with pragmatically, according to the consequences of its presence, rather than symbolically according to its cultural meaning. The writing of Sartre on slime provides a more persuasive explanation both for the ambivalence towards ambiguous materials of slime and dirt and for the moral connotations that attach to them. Everett Hughes's account of a 'moral division of labour' in which distinctions are made concerning dirty work fits with some of the visible hierarchical distinctions in the garage setting. But it is the variability of practices, both between garages and between technicians in a similar setting, that suggests dealing with dirt is a practical matter that is not prescribed by ritual or cultural significance.

Risking the University? Learning to be a Manager-Academic in UK Universities

Rosemary Deem and Rachel Johnson
Sociological Research Online 8 (3) deem

Keywords: Academic Work; Academics; Change; Informal Learning; Management; Risk-cultures; Risk-society; Universities
Abstract: The paper explores the extent to which Heads of Department and Pro-Vice Chancellors, or manager-academics, in UK universities are aware of and prepared for the so-called 'risk society'. It draws on a research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council concerned with the management of UK universities and the extent of permeation within universities of recent ideologies about new practices for managing public services. Recent debates in social theory about the concept of a risk society and risk cultures, and how these might be applied to higher education, are considered. Key features of a rapidly changing environment for the conduct and management of academic work are also outlined. The focus and methodology of the ESRC research project are explained. Interview data from Head of Department and Pro-Vice Chancellors are then used to illustrate a range of responses to notions of risk made by manager-academics. Finally, the paper examines how the learning of manager-academics could be better supported, in order that post-holders can acquire the flexibility and reflexivity which living in a risk society and culture seems to demand.

Making Connections: the Relationship between Train Travel and the Processes of Work and Leisure

Gayle Letherby and Gillian Reynolds
Sociological Research Online 8 (3) letherby

Keywords: Leisure; Place; Space; Time; Tourist Gaze; Train Travel; Work
Abstract: Many volumes have been written cataloguing and detailing the long-term or historical changes in the process of work. Similarly, much attention has been given to 'doing leisure'. What most, if not all of these works have in common is that both work and leisure are seen as taking place either 'in' or 'away from' the home. The space between home and the place of work or leisure is seen as a separate entity: the 'travel' for which one normally requires a means of transport. Transport then is theorized as simply a way of getting from A to B. Indeed, those who study and theorise about transport are more likely to be in the discipline of engineering than of sociology. In this article we challenge all of this through a consideration of the work and leisure that individuals undertake on the train. We draw on own experience and on empirical data from a pilot study of train users and also outline our future research and writing plans in this area.

Consumed with Sleep? Dormant Bodies in Consumer Culture

Simon Williams and Sharon Boden
Sociological Research Online 9 (2) williams

Keywords: Beauty; Consumption; Health; Leisure; Sleep; Work
Abstract: Abstract: This paper takes the neglected sociological matter of sleep and applies the insights contained therein to issues and debates within the sociology of consumption. Sleep, it is argued, is pursued if not consumed in a variety of ways in consumer culture, including its (lifestyle) associations with health and beauty, leisure and pleasure. It is also increasingly recognised if not contracted for in the workplace, construed as the 'ultimate performance enhancer' and the 'cheapest form of stress relief'. These and other insights are located in the context of a burgeoning 'sleep industry' and the consumer identities it spawns: one which is busy capitalising on this dormant third part of our lives through a range of products, from beds to bedding, night-wear to night-cream, pills to pillows. Sleep, it is concluded, is a crucial element of consumption, augmenting existing theoretical and empirical agendas in significant new ways. The broader sociological implications of sleep are also touched upon and addressed, as a stimulus to further research, discussion and debate.

Attitudes, Care and Commitment: Pattern and Process

Sarah Irwin
Sociological Research Online 9 (3) irwin

Keywords: Attitudes, Norms, Care, Parenting, Employment, Work-Life Balance, Schools
Abstract: The paper develops a new analysis of attitudes to aspects of work and caring for children. The paper reports on analysis of data generated through a small scale survey designed and conducted with pilot study funding to follow up aspects of research by the ESRC Research Group for the study of Care, Values and the Future of Welfare. The survey research takes as a focus a specific point in the life course of parents: when they have children in the early years at primary school. The paper develops an analysis of the coherence of people's attitudes and their social location, with particular reference to social inequality. It also reports on new linked analysis of British Social Attitudes Survey data. In contrast to recent arguments of increasingly 'autonomous' subjectivities the research contributes to a broader theoretical understanding of the mutuality of subjectivities and extant social relations.

The Geographical Mobility, Preferences and Pleasures of Prolific Punters: a Demonstration Study of the Activities of Prostitutes' Clients

Keith Soothill and Teela Sanders
Sociological Research Online 10 (1) soothill

Keywords: Internet Methodology, Computer Mediated Communication, Prostitution, Clients, Punters, Sex Work
Abstract: Clients of prostitutes have been traditionally neglected in the study of prostitution. This demonstration study suggests that the Internet, particularly one prominent website for patrons of commercial sex in Britain, can assist in learning more about the activities of prostitutes' clients, their patterns of behaviour and the organisation of commercial sex in contemporary society. The specific focus here is on the geographical locations of the paid sexual encounters of the ten most prolific authors who contribute to a popular website. It reveals 105 different locations identified in the reports with some punters travelling extensively for their pleasures. The study then focuses on a comparison of the activities of two of these punters showing how they both largely inhabit different worlds of the sex industry but also share some experiences. This paper contributes additional knowledge about prostitution at several levels: first, a microanalysis of a small sample of clients' purchasing patterns highlights the habits of some prolific patrons; second, alongside these patterns, the website offers a window onto the hidden world of prostitution in late modernity which in turn reveals some organisational features of prostitution; and third, the use of the Internet as a qualitative data source is explored.

Too Close for Comfort? 'Race'and the Management of Proximity, Guilt and Other Anxieties in Paid Domestic Labour

Esther Bott
Sociological Research Online 10 (3) bott

Keywords: Migrant Domestic Work, Racism, Employers' Anxieties, Proximity
Abstract: This paper examines relations between migrant domestic workers and their employers in London, and how employers use ideas about 'race' and racial difference to manage the difficulties and tensions involved in sharing their houses with employees. Using findings from preliminary interviews with employers (the initial phase of data gathering in a wider ongoing project), it looks at how employers might structure proximity/distance relations; levels of intimacy; social hierarchy and guilt management around a conceptual framework that hinges on notions of 'difference' and Otherness.

Sociological Futures and the Sociology of Work

Tim Strangleman
Sociological Research Online 10 (4) strangleman

Keywords: Sociology of Work and Employment; Industrial Sociology; Sociological Futures; Labour Process
Abstract: This essay is a response to the call for a discussion about future trends in sociology by focusing broadly on the sub-discipline of work and employment. In doing so the piece directly engages with earlier interventions made by John Scott (2005) and Gayle Letherby (2005) in Sociological Research Online. It examines the current state of the sociology of work by charting its foundation and subsequent development. It suggests that there is currently a problem in the area caused in part by intellectual trends and fragmentation. It argues that those sociologists working in the field need to engage collectively in a reflective process to refocus the subject combining elements from its 'golden age' as well as from more contemporary sources.

Marking the Moral Boundaries of Class

John Kirk
Sociological Research Online 11 (1) kirk

Keywords: Working Class; Experience; Structure of Feeling; Recognition; Language; Identity
Abstract: This article welcomes the recent renewed interest in the topic of class within sociology and cultural studies. This comes after a long period – from around the middle part of the 1980s and into the 1990s – during which social class was dismissed as a mode of understanding socio-economic and cultural conditions on the part of both academics and mainstream political organisations alike. Working-class formations in particular came under scrutiny, increasingly seen to be in terminal decline and fragmentation through the impact of post-industrialisation processes set in train in western economies from the turn of the 1980s onwards. The demise of heavy industry – steel, coal, textiles, for instance – profoundly altered working-class communities, transforming the material world and cultural life of the British working class, powerful developments reinforcing the 'end of class' debate. Allied to this, the emergence within the academy of new theoretical frameworks associated with postmodern thought claimed to undermine traditional understandings around class. This article insists on the continuing significance of class and does so by focussing on an important recent response to the class debate, Andrew Sayer's The Moral Significance of Class (2005). This book stakes a lucid claim for the importance of recognising class as a powerful determining factor of subjectivity. While drawing upon aspects of Sayer's theoretical framework and argument to examine class experience, it is also the intention of the article to supplement Sayer's work by developing related theoretical propositions derived from the writing of Raymond Williams and the Russian linguist and cultural critic Volosinov/Bakhtin.

Configurations of Care Work: Paid and Unpaid Elder Care in Italy and the Netherlands

Miriam Glucksmann and Dawn Lyon
Sociological Research Online 11 (2) glucksmann

Keywords: Work, Employment, Total Social Organisation of Labour, Care Work, Elder Care, Italy, the Netherlands, Configuration, Gender
Abstract: Most current sociological approaches to work recognise that the same activity may be undertaken within a variety of socio-economic forms - formal or informal, linked with the private market, public state or not-for-profit sectors. This article takes care of the elderly as an exemplary case for probing some of the linkages between paid and unpaid work. We attempt to unravel the interconnections between forms of care work undertaken in different socio-economic conditions in two settings, the Netherlands and Italy. The research is part of a broader programme concerned with differing interconnections and overlaps between work activities. In this article, we are concerned with: 1) how paid and unpaid care work map on to four 'institutional' modes of provision - by the state, family, market, and voluntary sector; and 2) with the configurations that emerge from the combination of different forms of paid and unpaid work undertaken through the different institutions. Despite the centrality of family-based informal care by women in both countries, we argue that the overall configurations of care are in fact quite distinct. In the Netherlands, state-funded care services operate to shape and anchor the centrality of family as the main provider. In this configuration, unpaid familial labour is sustained by voluntary sector state-funded provision. In Italy, by contrast, there is significant recourse to informal market-based services in the form of individual migrant carers, in a context of limited public provision. In this configuration, the state indirectly supports market solutions, sustaining the continuity of family care as an ideal and as a practice.

Research Identities: Reflections of a Contract Researcher

Jackie Goode
Sociological Research Online 11 (2) goode

Keywords: Taylorisation; Academic Work; Identities; Qualitative Research; In-Depth Interviews; Reflective Practice
Abstract: This paper examines the institutional identity formation of contract research staff in the context of the Taylorisation of research knowledges. The author has been a contract researcher for many years, after initially training and practising as a Probation Officer. She makes links between her social work training, and her current practice as a qualitative researcher. Drawing on her experience of working on a variety of different projects, at a number of different institutions, and providing illustrative examples from projects in sociology, social policy, health, and education, she reflects on the implications of the current social organization of academic research both for professional research practice and for researcher identity. There is a paradox in the way that contract research staff accrue a wealth of experience of how research is organised and conducted in different contexts, a repertoire of skills, and a vast volume of various kinds of 'data', whilst remaining vulnerable and marginalized figures within the academy, with few opportunities for professional development and advancement. She outlines a number of strategies she has employed in the preservation of the 'research self', and concludes by suggesting that the academy has much to learn about the effective management of 'waste', as embodied by researchers' selves and their data, consequent upon the Taylorisation of research work.

'Doing What is Right': Researching Intimacy, Work and Family Life in Glasgow, 1945-1960

Sue Innes and Linda McKie
Sociological Research Online 11 (2) innes

Keywords: Families, Child Protection, Gender, Paid Work, Care
Abstract: Understanding discursive shifts over the twentieth century in relation to family roles, paid work and care is essential to any critical review of contemporary family theory and policies. This paper charts aspects of these shifts. An analysis of case records of the Royal Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (RSSPCC), 1945 to 1960 is presented. Based upon these data we reflect upon the construction of the working-class family in the West of Scotland and draw upon one case study to illustrate issues further. This post-war period was one of rapid social and technological change. It is commonly perceived as a period of segregated gender roles, and in the UK a predominant male-breadwinner family model. The RSSPCC case records suggest that family lives and forms, particularly for those on low incomes, were diverse throughout this period. Although prosecutions for cruelty and neglect are dominant in perceptions of the society, most of its work was in material assistance, advice and surveillance. This latter aspect is considered in this paper.

The Time Economy of Parenting

Anne Gray
Sociological Research Online 11 (3) gray

Keywords: Fatherhood Gender-Contract Parenting Time-Use Work-Life-Balance
Abstract: This paper explores how the UK Time Use Survey (UKTUS), together with the author's qualitative interviews and focus groups with London parents, can inform current policy debates about childcare and parental employment. It also refers to the international literature about long-term trends in parental childcare time. It addresses four key questions about time use and parenting, which have implications for theorisation of the `gender contract' regarding childcare and for our understanding of the gendered distribution of time between care, work and leisure in two-parent families. How is total parenting time affected by parents' work hours ? How do the long work weeks of British fathers affect their capacity to share childcare with mothers ? Would childcare time rise if work hours were more equally distributed between women and men ? This invokes a discussion of how far childcare is really transferable between parents (or can be delegated to external carers); to what extent is it `work' or a relational activity ?

Shifting Positionalities: Empirical Reflections on a Queer/Trans of Colour Methodology

Jin Haritaworn
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 13

Keywords: Mixed Race, Thai, Sex Work, Queer Sensibility, Racialised Gender Identities and Sexualities, Non-White Heterosexuality
Abstract: How can we study 'Queer', or indeed, should we? Drawing on fieldwork with people raised in interracial families in Britain and Germany, and reflecting on my own coming out as transgendered/genderqueer during the research, I reflect on the role of difference, similarity, and change in the production of queer knowledges. My entry point is a queer diasporic one. Queers of colour, I argue, have a particular stake in queering racialised heterosexualities; yet differences within diasporic spaces clearly matter. While 'Queer' can open up an alternative methodology of redefining and reframing social differences, the directionality of our queering - 'up' rather than 'down' - is clearly relevant. I suggest the anti-racist feminist principle of positionality as fruitful for such a queer methodology of change. This is explored with regard to a selection of empirical and cultural texts, including the debate around Paris is Burning, Jenny Livingston's film about the Harlem house/ball scene; the appeal that a non-white heterosexual artist such as South-Asian pop singer MIA can have for queers of colour; the camp role model which Thai sex work femininity can represent for queer and trans people from the second generation of Thai migration; and the solidarity of a Southeast Asian butch with feminine women in her diasporic collectivity.

'I Don't Think That Does Leave You, Because It's About Where You Come From': Exploring Class in the Classroom

John Kirk
Sociological Research Online 13 (1) 16

Keywords: Working-Class; Identity; Oral Testimony; Commitment; Structure of Feeling; Habitus
Abstract: This article examines a teacher identity through the context of class background and habitus. It considers the significance of class transition, probing how a teacher's working-class history informs and helps define the emergence and consolidation of a teacher identity – to shape what is called here a particular 'teacherly self.' It explores some of the difficulties the working-class actor may experience on entering a largely middle-class profession. This transitional experience has generally gone by the term upward mobility, but the word mobility, with its largely favourable connotations of positive movement, is substituted for the notion of transition, which suggests a more complex and complicated process. The article shows how a working-class background informs class practice; in particular, how a class structure of feeling shapes attitudes and approaches to working-class pupils and their needs. By using oral history methods and aspects of narrative theory, the article seeks to underline how the continued significance of class finds complex expression in British culture.

Mockery and Morality in Popular Cultural Representations of the White Working Class

Jayne Raisborough and Matt Adams
Sociological Research Online 13 (6) 2

Keywords: Chav, Children\'s Comics, Cultural Representations, Disgust, Distinction, Humour, Middle Class, Ned, Ridicule, Working Class
Abstract: We draw on 'new' class analysis to argue that mockery frames many cultural representations of class and move to consider how it operates within the processes of class distinction. Influenced by theories of disparagement humour, we explore how mockery creates spaces of enunciation, which serve, when inhabited by the middle class, particular articulations of distinction from the white, working class. From there we argue that these spaces, often presented as those of humour and fun, simultaneously generate for the middle class a certain distancing from those articulations. The plays of articulation and distancing, we suggest, allow a more palatable, morally sensitive form of distinction-work for the middle-class subject than can be offered by blunt expressions of disgust currently argued by some 'new' class theorising. We will claim that mockery offers a certain strategic orientation to class and to distinction work before finishing with a detailed reading of two Neds comic strips to illustrate what aspects of perceived white, working class lives are deemed appropriate for these functions of mockery. The Neds, are the latest comic-strip family launched by the publishers of children's comics The Beano and The Dandy, D C Thomson and Co Ltd.

Researching 'Care' in and Around the Workplace

Andrew Smith and Linda McKie
Sociological Research Online 14 (4) 1

Keywords: Care, Carescapes, Employing Organisations, Organisation Carescapes, Research Methods, Work
Abstract: In this research note we critically consider the concept of 'care' both inside and around the workplace. Care, we assert, is ever-present in the workplace and evident in friendships and wider social relations. Moreover, many organisational policies and practices provide a framework within which caring may take place or be denied. 'Organisation carescapes' is introduced as a conceptual framework, which we argue can aid the identification and analysis of 'care' in employing organisations. Drawing on exploratory interviews, we discuss the implications these had on future stages of the research project in terms of our use of language and ways of conceptualising care at work. We explain how we operationalised the concept of care at work through the development of a questionnaire, which sought to map the care policies and services offered by a range of employing organisations. Furthermore, we discuss the appropriateness of the critical incident interview technique in uncovering the cultures and practices of care both in and around the workplace. Hence, through our conceptual and empirical research, we seek to bridge the sociologies of work and care.

Work as Community: Narratives of Solidarity and Teamwork in the Contemporary Workplace, Who Owns Them?

Gillian Vogl
Sociological Research Online 14 (4) 4

Keywords: Qualitative Research Methodologies, Workplace, Organisational Culture, Teamwork, Manufactured Community, Community, Solidarity, Post-Fordism, Fordism
Abstract: The workplace provides a very important context for the development of community. Structural changes that have occurred in the workplace in the last 25 years have impacted on how community has been constructed and experienced in the workplace. These structural changes have often been accompanied by particular types of organisational cultures and forms of work organisation. One such form of work organisation has been teamwork. Some have argued that management induced forms of employee collectivism, such as teamwork hasundermined more genuine employee generated forms of community and solidarity. Through in-depth interviews with employees in a number of organisations from two research projects, this article explores employee's experiences of community and highlights the different ways in which teamwork is interpreted and experienced by workers.

Apocalypse in the Long Run: Reflections on Huge Comparisons in the Study of Modernity

John R. Hall
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 10

Keywords: Conflict, Generalization, Historical Sociology, Historicism,, Lifeworld, Methodology, Modernity, Phenomenology, Religion, Temporality, Theory
Abstract: Methodologies of historical sociology face research problems centered on the instability of historical referents, their historical non-independence, and the privileging of objective time of the clock and calendar. The present essay, by reflecting on an analysis of the apocalyptic in the long run (Hall 2009), proposes the potential to solve these problems by way of a phenomenology of history, which analyzes the enactment and interplay of multiple social temporalities. Whereas high-modern theories of modernity tended to portray a secular trend toward the triumph of rationalized social order centered in diachronic time, analysis of the historical emergence of apocalyptic times in relation to other temporalities especially objective (or diachronic) temporalities, the here-and-now, and the collective synchronic reveals that the apocalyptic has survived within modernity through the articulation of rationalized diachronic time with the sacred strategic time of apocalyptically framed 'holy war.' Overall, the 'empire of modernity' is a hybrid formation that bridges diachronic and strategic temporalities. Despite diachronic developments that tend toward what Habermas described as the colonization of the lifeworld, a phenomenological analysis suggests the durability of the here-and-now and collective synchronic times. These analyses unveil a research agenda that deconstructs the high-modern 'past' versus 'present' binary in favor of a model that analyzes the interplay of multiple social forms, and thus encourages a retheorization of modernity as 'recomposition' encompassing multiple temporalities.

Part-Time Work and Activity in Voluntary Associations in Great Britain

Daiga Kamerade
Sociological Research Online 14 (5) 2

Keywords: Part-Time Work, Political Groups, Social Capital, Trade Unions, Voluntary Associations
Abstract: This paper evaluates both the economic, or rational choice, and sociological theories to examine the effects of part-time working on employees' activity in voluntary associations. Using longitudinal data analysis of the British Household Panel Survey from 1993 to 2005, this study demonstrates that, in Britain, part-time work increases the likelihood of individual level involvement in expressive voluntary associations (i.e. associations orientated to relatively immediate benefits for their members) but it is negatively related to their involvement in instrumental-expressive (such as trade unions and professionals' associations) and instrumental (political, environmental, and voluntary service) associations. The main conclusion is that time is an important resource for activity in expressive voluntary associations; however, for activity in instrumental and instrumental-expressive associations other factors are more important.

Social Work, Risk, Power

Roger Smith
Sociological Research Online 15 (1) 4

Keywords: Social Work, Risk, Power, Social Justice, Authority, Legitimacy Left_arrows
Abstract: Contemporary ideas and strategies of both 'risk' and 'power' are significant and dynamic influences in social theory and social action, and they can therefore be expected to have a substantial impact on the ways in which social work is constituted, practiced and evaluated. In this article, I shall articulate distinct conceptualisations and debates about each of these, before considering their inter-relationships and the implications of these for our thinking about what social work is, and what it should be. Firstly, I will consider social work's contested and problematic place within the broader welfare domain. It is recognised as being a form of activity which inhabits an ambiguous and uncertain position at the interface between the individual and the social, and between the marginalised and the mainstream. Building on this, 'power' will be shown to infuse social work ideas and practices in a number of distinct dimensions, linking and bridging 'personal', 'positional' and 'relational' domains. This discussion will be juxtaposed with a discussion of 'risk' and the part it has come to play in shaping and infusing social work practices, especially but not exclusively with children. The deconstruction of contemporary understandings and uses of risk as a central and 'authoritative' feature of assessment and decision-making will inform the argument that it can be viewed as a vehicle for the maintenance and legitimation of power relations which disenfranchise and oppress those who are most vulnerable. In conclusion, I will summarise the ways in which conventional understandings and inter-related material realities of power and risk are often hierarchical, uni-directional and oppressive; and on this basis, how they can be laid open to challenge. The reconceptualisation and remaking of power relations will be shown to have direct consequences for the ways in which risk is defined and addressed as a social work 'problem'.

Let's Get Organised: Practicing and Valuing Scientific Work Inside and Outside the Laboratory

Lisa Garforth and Anne Kerr
Sociological Research Online 15 (2) 11

Keywords: Women, Science, Laboratory, Epistemic Community, Organisation, Value, Work, Career, Housekeeping
Abstract: Over the past thirty years there has been a significant turn towards practice and away from institutions in sociological frameworks for understanding science. This new emphasis on studying 'science in action' (Latour 1987) and 'epistemic cultures' (Knorr Cetina 1999) has not been shared by academic and policy literatures on the problem of women and science, which have focused on the marginalisation and under-representation of women in science careers and academic institutions. In this paper we draw on elements of both these approaches to think about epistemic communities as simultaneously practical and organisational. We argue that an understanding of organisational structures is missing in science studies, and that studies of the under-representation of women lack attention to the detail of how scientific work is done in practice. Both are necessary to understand the gendering of science work. Our arguments are based on findings of a qualitative study of bioscience researchers in a British university. Conducted as part of a European project on knowledge production, institutions and gender the UK study involved interviews, focus groups and participant observation in two laboratories. Drawing on extracts from our data we look first at laboratories as relatively unhierarchical communities of practice. We go on to show the ways in which institutional forces, particularly contractual insecurity and the linear career, work to reproduce patterns of gendered inequality. Finally, we analyse how these patterns shape the gendered value and performance of 'housekeeping work' in the laboratory.

Meaning and Structure in the Work and Family Interface

Stefano Ba'
Sociological Research Online 15 (3) 10

Keywords: Work-Family Interface, Dual-Earner Parents, Symbolic Meaning, Work Constraints and Resources
Abstract: This article explores the work and family life of dual-earner parents, how they manage these commitments and how they respond to competing demands on their daily life. The analysis of qualitative data suggests that parents manage the work-family boundaries according to the specific meaning that they attach to these spheres of daily life, but it also points out at employment structures, which inform parents' 'focus' on work and family and equally shape these boundaries. Hence, this article assesses the relevance of these boundaries and how families mediate work and home. This mediating position is analysed through an approach whereby social and economic constraints become parameters informing parents' sense of self and the meanings used in the work and home articulation. Then, the symbolic side of the work-family interface becomes crucial to understand issues concerning the meaningful order of daily life and the emotional attachments of families to these domains. On this point, I argue that mechanistic approaches to the work-family articulation that take in consideration solely chronometric parameters cannot explore these issues as deeply. This article then advocates a qualitative approach to the work-family interface in order to understand better its cultural co-ordinates and contexts.

The Work of Repair: Gesture, Emotion and Sensual Knowledge

Tim Dant
Sociological Research Online 15 (3) 7

Keywords: Work, Repair, Cars, Phenomenology, Material Interaction
Abstract: As the pressure on limited natural resources and energy increases so the trend of the consumer society of the twentieth century towards discarding things that stop working and replacing them will shift towards recycling and repairing things. This paper contrasts the work of production with the work of repair and argues that the later is an artisanal process in tune with the species being of humans identified by Marx. Amongst the distinctive characteristics of the work of repair are the use of a complex repertoire of gestures, a variable emotional tone and the gathering of sensual knowledge. These distinctively human characteristics are not amenable to systematisation or replication in a machine process. The argument is illustrated with reference to more than sixty years of research on mechanised production in the car industry and a recent study of the work of repairing cars in local garages. Video data – here summarised with still images – is used to show the complex process of the work of repair that is explored in the light of theoretical perspectives from Leroi-Gourhan, Hendrick, and Merleau-Ponty.

Mapping the Social Organization of Labour in Moscow: Beyond the Formal/informal Labour Dualism

Colin C. Williams, Sara Nadin, Peter Rodgers, John Round and Jan Windebank
Sociological Research Online 16 (1) 13

Keywords: Informal Sector; Labour Practices; Livelihoods; Household Work Practices; Economic Sociology; Uneven Development; Eastern Europe; Russia; Moscow
Abstract: The starting point of this paper is recognition that the depiction of a formal/informal labour dualism, which views formal and informal labour as separate and hostile realms, is inappropriate for capturing the range of labour practices in societies. This is because labour practices cannot be neatly separated into discrete formal and informal realms, the differences within the formal and informal spheres are as great as the differences between the two realms, and formal and informal labour are not always embedded in different economic relations, values and motives. Here, an alternative more nuanced conceptual lens is proposed that resolves these problems and in so doing captures the multifarious labour practices in societies, namely the total social organization of labour (TSOL) perspective. This depicts labour practices as existing along a spectrum from more formal-oriented to more informal-oriented practices and cross-cuts this with a further spectrum from non-monetized, through in-kind and reciprocal labour, to monetized labour. Applying this conceptual lens, the results of a survey of the anatomy of labour practices in an affluent, mixed and deprived district of Moscow, comprising 313 face-to-face interviews, are then analysed. This reveals that socio-spatial variations in the organisation of labour are not solely about the degree of formalization of working life. Instead, this study unravels that populations range from relatively affluent 'work busy' populations undertaking, and voluntarily selecting from, a multiplicity of labour practices, to relatively disadvantaged 'work deprived' populations engaged in a narrower range of practices and more commonly out of necessity and in the absence of alternatives. The outcome is call for both the wider application and refinement of this TSOL approach when mapping the social organisation of labour and evaluations of whether the findings from Moscow are more widely valid in other societal contexts.

Ethnographic Intimacy: Thinking Through the Ethics of Social Research in Sex Worlds

Maria Pérez-y-Pérez and Tony Stanley
Sociological Research Online 16 (2) 13

Keywords: Ethnography; Informed Consent; Ethics Committees; Reflexivity; Sex Work; Risk and HIV
Abstract: Ethnographic researchers entering sensitive fields of research become entangled in ethical dilemmas when they encounter 'sticky' questions, situations and issues. In undertaking research within two distinct sex worlds: female sex work and male sexual negotiation/risk and HIV, we struggled to manage the contingent links between our relationships with the people who inhabit these worlds, the ethical requirements of our institutional ethics committees, and our hybrid selves. In the context of 'doing' intimate ethnography, we were required to craft ourselves into the field and establish a number of intimate and prolonged relationships. While the participants in our studies were active in giving their consent, this did not obviate the risk that they would become objectified within the field relationship and the texts the research generated. These issues are central to our discussion as we consider the lack of fit between ethical guidelines and the practical reality of fieldwork.

Socio-Cultural Risk? Reporting on a Qualitative Study with Female Street-Based Sex Workers

Mary Leaker and Priscilla Dunk-West
Sociological Research Online 16 (4) 9

Keywords: Sex Work, Prostitution, Risk, Gender, Gendered Violence, Socio-Cultural Risk Theory, Disembedding Risk
Abstract: Risk narratives are of increasing importance in contemporary social life in that they help in understanding and anticipating the shifts that characterise our late modern landscape. Our qualitative research explores risk as it relates to violence toward street-based sex workers in a suburban Australian setting. Female street-based sex workers represent a highly stigmatised and marginalised group. International studies report that they experience high levels of sexual violence perpetrated by male clients and our empirical work with street-based sex workers in Adelaide, South Australia concurs with this finding. Despite many creative and specialized skills workers reported drawing upon to minimise the risk of violence to themselves, we argue that a socio-cultural lens is vital to viewing risk in this context. We argue that in order to effect change, risk must be disembedded from increasingly individualized discourses, since it is through the personalisation of risk that violence becomes legitimised as an occupational hazard in street-based sex work.

Community Health Workers Working the Digital Archive: A Case for Looking at Participatory Archiving in Studying Stigma in the Context of HIV and AIDS

Naydene de Lange and Claudia Mitchell
Sociological Research Online 17 (1) 7

Keywords: Community Health Workers; Community-Based Digital Archive; Participatory Archiving; Participatory Cultures; Stigma; HIV and AIDS
Abstract: Addressing the issue of HIV-stigma is recognised as essential to reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS, enabling community members to access prevention, treatment and care. Often the very people who are able to contribute to solving the problem, are marginalised and do not see ways to insert themselves into dialogues related to combating stigma. Community health workers in rural South Africa are one such group. At the heart of the research discussed in this article is an intervention based on participatory analysis through participatory archiving (Shilton and Srinivasan 2008). Drawing on participatory work with thirteen community health workers in rural KwaZulu-Natal, we use a digital archive containing HIV-stigma visual data - generated five years earlier by youth in the community - to engage the participants in the analysis. Drawing on such participatory work as Jenkins' participatory cultures framework, we focus on the idea of re-using, re-coding, and re-mixing visual data. One participant stated that "these pictures talk about the real issues faced by our communities", highlighting the value of resources generated by community members themselves. They also indicate that they "could use [the resources] to teach the cons of stigmatizing". A key concern in work related to visual images (particularly in projects such as ours where a large amount of visual data is produced) is to consider ways of extending its life through the use of community-based digital archives.

Picturing Work in an Industrial Landscape: Visualising Labour, Place and Space

Tim Strangleman
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 20

Keywords: Labour Geography; Visual Sociology; Sociology of Work; Representation of Work, Place and Space
Abstract: This paper explores the notion of the visual landscape of work. Coming from a sociological perspective it attempts to view work, its meanings and the identities that surround it, through the lens of landscape. It takes on recent challenges to work sociology made by economic/labour geographers who argue that sociological understanding of employment are insufficiently spatial - space if used as a concept at all is reduced to the notion of a boundary containing economic processes rather than something that is constructed and in turn constructs work. Using material from ongoing research into the former Guinness Brewery at Park Royal in West London, and in particular a range of archival and contemporary visual sources, this paper illustrates the ways in which spatial ideas underpin complex sociological notions of work practice and culture. It will examine the way space is implicated in the location, construction, labour, and closing of this once famous brewery and how visual material helps to unlock theoretical and methodological understandings of work and industry.

Fishmongers in a Global Economy: Craft and Social Relations on a London Market

Dawn Lyon and Les Back
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 23

Keywords: Craft, Embodiment, Ethnography, Fishmonger, Photography, Sensory Sociology, Skill, Tacit Knowledge, Work
Abstract: This article is based on multi-sensory ethnographic research into fishmongers on a south London market, the setting for a specific topography of work. We contrast Charlie, a white Londoner whose family has been in the fish business for over 100 years, with Khalid, an immigrant from Kashmir, who, even without the tacit knowledge of generations at his fingertips, has successfully found a place for himself in the local and global economy of fish. The research pays attention to the everyday forms of work that take place when the fishmongers sell to the public. We use these two very different cases to explore what constitutes work and labour and the different sensibilities that these two men bring to their trade. Drawing on observations, photography and sound recordings, the paper also represents the fishmongers at work. We take the two cases in turn to discuss learning the trade and the craft of fishmongering, the social relations of the market, and the art of buying and selling fish. More generally, the article explores how global connections are threaded through the local economy within a landscape of increasing cultural and racial diversity. It also critically discusses the gain of the visual as well as the aural for generating insights into and representing the sensuous quality of labour as an embodied practice.

Space, Buildings and the Life Worlds of Home-Based Workers: Towards Better Design

Frances Holliss
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 24

Keywords: Home-Based Work, Space, Design, Visual Methods, Life-Worlds, Architecture, Class, Lifestyle, Occupational Identity, Gender, Dwelling, Workplace, Family, Public, Private, Home, Workhome, Typology
Abstract: This article draws on recent research into the architecture of home‐based work, the working practices of the home-based workforce and the range and types of buildings they inhabit. The initial project was conducted in 2005-07. It involved 76 informants, from urban, suburban and rural contexts in England: a London Borough, a London suburb and a West Sussex village. Follow-on research was conducted in London in 2009-11. Originating in architecture, the research employed a number of visual methods, including photography, orthogonal drawing and diagram-making. While these visual methods are commonplace in architecture, they are normally used to portray idealized buildings and interiors. People and their everyday lives are usually absent. In contrast, as is more typical of sociology, a primary concern of this research was to understand the ordinary daily lives of people who either lived at their workplace or worked in their homes. The research sought a better understanding of the historical and contemporary significance of the spaces and buildings that would be of use to this workforce, one which could give a voice to contemporary home-based workers across the social spectrum and in a wide variety of occupations. Representing their life-worlds visually has been central to this aim.

Flesh and Stone Revisited: The Body Work Landscape of South Florida

Carol Wolkowitz
Sociological Research Online 17 (2) 26

Keywords: Body Work Economy, Ageing, Health Care, Social Care, Privatisation, Tattooing, South Florida, South Beach
Abstract: This article seeks to demonstrate the value of producing still photographs as a way of comprehending the growth of the 'body work economy'. It documents the body work landscape of contemporary capitalism through exploring the ubiquity, appearance and scale of body work enterprises and employment in two localities of south Florida. It focuses on health, social care and other services for the ageing population of retirees in southeast Florida, as well as on tattooing and other body work services for younger, fashionable residents of and visitors to South Beach, Miami. The article sees the photographs of body work enterprises it deploys as a kind of ethnographic evidence, similar in status to quotations from a fieldwork diary or interviews, and suggests that they may help to pinpoint issues of that require further analytical exploration, in this case the role of body work as a component of economic development and patterns of employment. The article goes on to explore of the reasons for the growth of the body work economy in south Florida.

Does Female Employment Always Undermine Marriage? Working Wives and Family Stability in Different Contexts of Italian Society

Lorenzo Todesco
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 13

Keywords: Family - Italy - Marital Dissolution - Divorce - Female Employment - Working Wives
Abstract: Previous research has shown that the association between female employment and risk of marital disruption is still far from clear-cut, partly because certain theoretical and empirical evidence indicates that it may vary according to different conditions. The purpose of this study is to reassess the association between female employment and marital stability in Italy, by viewing it as contingent on historical period, institutional and cultural context and wives' gender ideology. The relative risk of marital disruption is estimated using discrete time event-history models. The empirical findings clearly show that wives' employment in this country seems to be disruptive for marriages, and its effect remains constant across the different conditions tested in the analysis.

Earning Not Learning? An Assessment of Young People in the Jobs Without Training (JWT) Group

Sue Maguire, Thomas Spielhofer and Sarah Golden
Sociological Research Online 17 (3) 7

Keywords: Young People, Employment, Training, Jobs Without Training, School-To-Work Transitions
Abstract: In recent years, mass participation in post-16 education and training in England has led to a diminishing understanding about young people who leave education at the end of compulsory schooling to enter 'jobs without training' (JWT). Drawing on data from three recent studies, this article argues that the JWT group is not homogeneous in its composition. Similar findings led to the development of a common typology across all three studies to define young people's position in the labour market, their motivations and aspirations, and their access to training and development. It concludes with a series of recommendations for addressing the deficit in knowledge about the composition of the JWT group, and the learning and training needs of young workers. This discussion is set in the context of the implementation of the Raising of the Participation Age (RPA) in England for all 17-year olds from 2013 and for all 18-year olds from 2015, although within the Coalition Government's current proposals, its delivery will lack any form of immediate enforcement. Therefore, unless young workers and their employers are committed to the acquisition of accredited qualifications, RPA delivery will be seriously undermined and intervention to support school to work transitions among the JWT group will remain negligible.

Doing Identity with Style: Service Interaction, Work Practices and the Construction of 'Expert' Status in the Contemporary Hair Salon

Tracey Yeadon-Lee
Sociological Research Online 17 (4) 2

Keywords: Hairstyling, Hairdressing, Customer Service, Emotion Work, Expert Status, Identity, Service Work
Abstract: This paper contributes to a growing body of scholarship concerned with hairstyling as an occupation and, more broadly, to sociological discussions concerning contemporary forms of service work. As an occupation hairstyling is largely under-researched, with the majority of existing studies restricting their focus to small low-profile salons situated in the 'backstreets' of rural areas or small towns. Hairstyling in larger high-profile salon environments, such as those in city centres, has only recently begun to be examined and critical discussion of existing knowledge in light of these environments has yet to be fully developed. The aim of this paper is to stimulate discussion by exploring, in the context of high profile salon environments in the UK, how the work practices and service interactions of hair stylists impact upon their status and identities in relation to clients. Research undertaken in low profile salon settings has found that the service-oriented and commercial features of the work position stylists as subservient to clients and undermines their 'expert' status. Drawing on empirical qualitative research this paper explores how, in contemporary high-profile salon environments, stylist-client dynamics are differently configured. It highlights how service orientated norms and practices underpinning the work of stylists are informed by discourses of customer service 'excellence' which promote employee proactivity and discourage customer deference. Discussion of the data shows how within these settings stylists are empowered to be directive in their service interactions with clients and engage in range of work practices which facilitate, rather than undermine, the establishment of their expert status. The relevance of the research findings to understandings of status and identity construction in similar service work jobs is also highlighted in the paper.

Full Employment in a Green Society

Steve Dawe
Sociological Research Online 17 (4) 8

Keywords: Full Employment, Work, Sustainability, Active Labour Market Policies, Neoliberalism
Abstract: This article is an attempt to re-conceptualise Full Employment. The UK context is the main geographical focus. A normative route to the rehabilitation of Full Employment is offered - recast here as 'Green Full Employment' - utilising a variety of Green perspectives from sociology, politics and economics. This contribution to the debate about Full Employment is 'normative', because without ethical values we may lack a moral compass to motivate policies. Green Full Employment is presented here not simply as a potential 'active labour market' policy, but as a contributory facet of the on-going 'Green Industrial Revolution.' Inevitably, this reconceptualization raises questions about the value of many forms of contemporary work and what purpose they serve. The potential resistance of neoliberal forces to Green Full Employment is noted, before future lines of research are suggested.

Ordinary Lives: 'Typical Stories' of Girls' Transitions in the 1960s and the 1980s

John Goodwin and Henrietta O'Connor
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 4

Keywords: Ordinary Lives, Girls, School to Work, 1960s, 1980s
Abstract: Since 2000 we have been engaged in restudies of transitions projects from the 1960s and 1980s and we have used historic data to problematise past experiences of school to work to question assumptions around complexity and linearity. Yet, in our own analyses, we have perhaps followed too closely the dominant transition discourses, concentrating only on those young people for whom transitions were not straightforward thus privileging the non-linear and complex at the expense of those who had largely unremarkable education and early work experiences. In doing so we have missed important lessons located in the life stories of the previously 'ordinary kids' in these past studies. In this paper, we seek to build upon the work of Roberts (2011) and France (2007), by returning to our own school to work restudies with two main aims in mind. First, we consider the emergent notions of 'ordinary' and 'unspectacular' transitions in the context of past studies of youth. We reflect critically on the concept the 'ordinary' and consider 'typicality' as an alternative. Second, we use data, in the form of eight vignettes, from Adjustment of Young Workers to Work Situations and Adult Roles (1962) and Young Adults in the Labour Market (1983), to develop our understanding of the ordinary or typical in the lived realities of the transitions of girls in one labour market (Leicester) from the 1960s and 1980s. We conclude the paper by reflecting upon what lessons can be learnt from those who made seemingly ordinary transitions during past periods of economic change and transformation.

Running up a Down-Escalator in the Middle of a Class Structure Gone Pear-Shaped

Patrick Ainley and Martin Allen
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 8

Keywords: Riots, Olympics, Social Class, New Middle Working Class, So-Called 'Underclass', Education, Training, Higher Education, Further Education, E-Bacc
Abstract: Whilst widening participation to higher education was approaching New Labour's target of 50% of 18-30s (for women at least), it was presented as a professionalisation of the proletariat but in reality and in hindsight it can be seen to have disguised a proletarianisation of the professions - for which HE supposedly prepares its graduates - with many reduced to para-professions at best. It is argued therefore that education as a whole faces a credibility crunch. However, many have nowhere else to go since without qualifications they face falling into the so-called 'underclass' which was widely seen to have manifested itself in the riots of summer 2011. Like other commentators, we point out that the majority of youth did not riot and focus instead upon the children of the new working-middle class who are running up a down-escalator of devalued qualifications. This only intensifies national hysteria about education as the Coalition's reception of Browne's Review restricts competitive academic HE entry to those who can afford tripled fees, while relegating those who cannot to 'Apprenticeships Without Jobs' (cf. Finn 1987) in FE and private providers. With reference to Allen and Ainley (2011), this paper speculates as to the likely outcome of this generational crisis.

Economies of Recycling, 'Consumption Work' and Divisions of Labour in Sweden and England

Kathryn Wheeler and Miriam Glucksmann
Sociological Research Online 18 (1) 9

Keywords: Consumption Work, Division of Labour, Recycling, Waste
Abstract: The recycling of domestic waste has become increasingly significant over recent years with governments across the world pledging increases in their recycling rates. But success in reaching targets relies on the input and effort of the household and consumer. This article argues that the work consumers regularly perform in sorting their recyclable waste into different fractions and, in some cases, transporting this to communal sites, plays an integral role in the overall division of labour within waste management processes. We develop the concept of 'consumption work' drawing on comparative research in Sweden and England to show how the consumer is both at the end and starting point of a circular global economy of materials re-use. The work that consumers do has not been systematically explored as a distinctive form of labour, and we argue that treating it seriously requires revision of the conventional approach to the division of labour.

Bodies in a Frame: Black British, Working Class, Teenage Femininity and the Role of the Dance Class

Camilla Stanger
Sociological Research Online 18 (2) 10

Keywords: Body; Teenage, Femininity, Black; Working Class, Glamour, Hetero-Sexualisation, Gaze; Dance, Agency
Abstract: Historically the working class, black, female body has been defined by its sexuality and socially constructed as an object for heterosexual consumption; this article is concerned with how this manifests itself for young British women in educational settings today. I will argue that this historical bodily construction has been compounded for young women in this context by a contemporary popular culture which frames, glamorises and hetero-sexualises black female bodies. Drawing on the work of Judith Butler and Michel Foucault, I will suggest that girls who perform a Black British, working-class femininity play a central role in their own construction as hetero-sexualised and consequently passive bodies, through an internalisation of and performance for a heterosexual “gaze” within various spaces of the urban, post-16 college. This article ultimately focuses, however, on the potential for resistance. Based on research conducted into the experiences of four dance students at an inner London post-16 college, I will explore the dance class as a potential space for resisting the debilitating heterosexual gaze enacted within the public spaces of the college. I will argue that the dance class can be a space where the student can reconstruct and reproduce her own body in a way that grants it agency, rather than objectifying it within a metaphorical frame.

The Lived Experience of Diagnosis Delivery in Motor Neurone Disease: A Sociological-Phenomenological Study

Amanda Pavey, Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson and Toby Pavey
Sociological Research Online 18 (2) 11

Keywords: Motor Neurone Disease (MND); Diagnosis Delivery; Sociological-Phenomenology; Lived Experience; Patient Perspective
Abstract: Relatively few previous studies of individuals receiving a diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease within the UK health care system have employed qualitative approaches to examine the diagnostic journey from a patient perspective. A qualitative sociological study was undertaken, involving interviews with 42 participants diagnosed with MND, to provide insight into their experiences of undergoing testing and receiving a diagnosis. Adopting a sociological-phenomenological perspective, this article examines key themes that emerged from participant accounts surrounding the lived experience of the diagnostic journey. The key themes that emerged were: The diagnostic quest; living with uncertainty; hearing bad news; communication difficulties; and a reified body of medical interest. In general, doctor-patient communication both at pre and post diagnosis was experienced as highly stressful, distressing and profoundly upsetting. Participants reported such distress as being due to the mode of delivery and communication strategies used by health professionals. We therefore suggest that professional training needs to emphasize the importance to health professionals of fostering greater levels of tact, sensitivity and empathy towards patients diagnosed with devastating, life-limiting illnesses such as MND.

Widening Participation Through Alternative Public Schools: A Canadian Example

Nicole Etherington
Sociological Research Online 18 (2) 12

Keywords: Alternative Schools, Working Class, Sociology of Education, Widening Participation, Academic Achievement, Post-Secondary, Cultural Capital, Symbolic Violence, Content Analysis
Abstract: In recent years, the development of the global knowledge economy has rendered post-secondary education necessary for employment and earning potential, with manual labour no longer as prevalent or secure as it once was. Yet, access to post-secondary institutions continues to be stratified based on social class. To support working-class students in obtaining a post-secondary education, some countries have opened alternative public schools geared toward this purpose. This article draws on a Canadian case study of a school for working-class students whose parents do not have any post-secondary education to investigate the discourse surrounding these institutions and their goals. Using a content analysis of newspaper articles and policy documents, I find that while alternative schools certainly have the potential to increase educational attainment amongst working-class students, they may pose significant challenges to working-class identities.

Habitus Disjunctures, Reflexivity and White Working-Class Boys' Conceptions of Status in Learner and Social Identities

Garth Stahl
Sociological Research Online 18 (3) 2

Keywords: White Working-Class Boys; Social Class; Habitus; Reflexivity; Identity
Abstract: The article primarily explores the social class identification of 15 white working-class boys at a high performing school in a socially marginalized area of South London where academic performance was routinely depicted as crucial to economic and social well-being. The research aims to consider the influence of a high performing school on the boys’ identity and the relationship between their identity and their engagement with education. First, a brief background on white working-class boys ‘underachievement’ will provide the context. Second, Bourdieu’s conceptual tools of habitus, institutional habitus and capitals are examined. Bourdieu’s class analysis provides a useful conceptual framework to address (divided) working-class masculinities in a high attaining academic institution. Third, semi-structured interviews focused on academic self-concept, social class-identification and subsequent rationales, as well as participants’ identification of who they considered to be a student they admire, provide valuable insight into understanding habitus disjunctures and learner identities.

Researching the Intangible: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study of the Everyday Practices of Belonging

Julia Bennett
Sociological Research Online 19 (1) 10

Keywords: Belonging, Phenomenology, Photo-Elicitation;, Visual Methods, Diaries, Place
Abstract: How can the intangible aspects of everyday life be uncovered? A phenomenological approach has its origins in the everyday but also allows everything to be questioned. In studying belonging a phenomenological approach supported by a variety of qualitative methods produced a wealth of ‘insider’ information that could have been missed using more traditional methods. The research was based around multi-generational family groups as a family narrative focuses on relations between different family members over the generations rather than on an individual biography. Biographical interviews in family groups allowed families to talk about their lives together. Diaries put the direction of the research in the hands of the participants thus reversing, to some extent, the traditional power relations between researcher and researched. Through written and photo diaries participants shared details of their daily lives which might have been more difficult to elicit in a formal interview situation. The photos allowed the researcher to ‘visit’ places which are a part of the daily life of participants in a subtle and non-intrusive manner. These research approaches privilege the voices of the participants in research into their lives. Through demonstrating the richness of the data collected this article argues that such approaches could be used more widely.

Parenting, Play and the Work-Family Interaction

Stefano Ba'
Sociological Research Online 19 (2) 7

Keywords: Work-Family Interaction, Play, Parenting, Children’s Activities, Gender
Abstract: This article explores the recreational time of parents with young children and the ways it can influence practices reconciling work and family. The aim is to examine the internal dynamics and the emotional side of family life vis- -vis parents’ time structures. Children’s organised and spontaneous activities have received scant attention in work-family studies and this lack of conceptual development around the quality of time use is unfortunate, if we take the work-family interaction to be more than the sum of strategies aiming at balancing both domains. In this analytical framework special attention is then placed on play and on the activities parents set up with children during their recreational time. We find that especially play and loosely structured recreational time becomes important for parents because this time strongly characterises their home experience and through it they construct emotional bonds with their children. In this research, the concepts of ‘parent-initiated play’ will be introduced and used to find that play and activities with children are linked to asymmetric gender practices of care and bonding. The dual nature of parents’ time with children is considered crucial in understanding the construction of family life and the strains around the work-family interaction.

'Benefits Street' and the Myth of Workless Communities

Robert MacDonald, Tracy Shildrick and Andy Furlong
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 1

Keywords: Worklessness, Welfare, Benefits, Neighbourhoods
Abstract: This paper critically engages with a pervasive myth about welfare in the UK which is commonly spread by politicians, think tanks and the media. This is the myth that there are areas of the country which are so affected by entrenched cultures of 'welfare dependency' that the majority of residents are unemployed. In undertaking research that sought to investigate a different idea - that there are families where no-one has worked over several generations - we simultaneously gathered evidence about the likelihood that there are localities where virtually no-one is in employment. The rationale for Channel 4's Benefits Street was exactly this; that whole streets and neighbourhoods are of out of work and living on welfare benefits. We draw on research evidence gathered in Middlesbrough and Glasgow to investigate this idea. Thus, the aim of our paper is simple and empirical: is the central idea of 'Benefits Street' true? Are there streets and neighbourhoods in the UK where virtually no-one works?

The Politics of Health Services Research: Health Professionals as Hired Hands in a Commissioned Research Project in England

Simon Dyson and Sue Dyson
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 14

Keywords: Evidence-Based Research, Health Services Research, Hired Hands, Midwives, Research Methodology, Work and Employment
Abstract: Previous health services research has failed to account for the role played by clinical staff in the collection of data. In this paper we use the work of Roth on hired hand research to examine the politics of evidence production within health services research. Sociologies of work predict lack of engagement in the research tasks by subordinated groups of workers. We examine the role of midwives in researching ante-natal screening for sickle cell and thalassaemia in England, and construct three ideal types: repairers, refractors, and resisters to account for the variable engagement of health staff with research. We find some features of the hired hand phenomenon predicted by Roth to be in evidence, and suggest that the context of our project is similar to much health services research. We conclude that without concerted attempts (1) to change the social relations of research production; (2) to mitigate hired hand effects; (3) to assess the impact of the hired hand effect on the validity and reliability of findings, and (4) to report on these limitations, that health services research involving large teams of subordinated clinical staff as data collectors will be prone to produce evidence that is of limited trustworthiness.

Representing Attitudes to Welfare Dependency: Relational Geographies of Welfare

Jessica Pykett
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 23

Keywords: Worklessness, Welfare Dependency, Welfare Conditionality, Media Representations, Behaviour Change
Abstract: This article outlines the recent circulation of media images and discourse relating to characters pre-figured as ‘welfare dependents’ and reaction to Benefits Street. The article provides a brief overview of sociological analysis of such representations of apparently spiralling ‘cultures of dependency’ and proposes an alternative relational geography approach to understanding existing welfare dynamics. It describes a shift from putative welfare dependency, to dependency on geographically uneven employment opportunities, low-wage dependency and dependency on a new migrant division of labour. It then contrasts this relational geography approach with the increasingly behaviourist overtones of contemporary welfare reform, which began under New Labour and have accelerated under the Coalition government since 2010 and are in part reliant on the aforementioned media images in securing public acceptance. The article concludes by speculating on the apparent importance of Benefits Street in marking the possible ‘end times’ for the welfare state as we knew it.

Welfare Commonsense, Poverty Porn and Doxosophy

Tracey Jensen
Sociological Research Online 19 (3) 3

Keywords: Classificatory Politics, Welfare Reform, Worklessness, Poverty Porn, Doxosophy, Media Culture
Abstract: This article critically examine how Benefits Street – and the broader genre of poverty porn television – functions to embed new forms of ‘commonsense’ about welfare and worklessness. It argues that such television content and commentary crowds out critical perspectives with what Pierre Bourdieu (1999) called ‘doxa', making the social world appear self-evident and requiring no interpretation, and creating new forms of neoliberal commonsense around welfare and social security. The article consider how consent for this commonsense is animated through poverty porn television and the apparently ‘spontaneous’ (in fact highly editorialized) media debate it generates: particularly via ‘the skiver’, a figure of social disgust who has re-animated ideas of welfare dependency and deception.

Resonance as a Social Phenomenon

Vincent Miller
Sociological Research Online 20 (2) 9

Keywords: Resonance, Intimacy, Everyday Life, Communitas, Anonymity, Phenomenology
Abstract: This paper is a theoretical investigation into the question of affinity and belonging in everyday life contexts. I argue that Sociology had tended to focus attention on the conceptual binaries of ‘individual/community’ or ‘individual/social structure’ when discussing experiences of inclusion, solidarity or belonging in social life. This has meant that such experiences are generally conceived in terms of ‘a part of’ or ‘apart from’. Such a focus has meant that incidents of belonging or affinity which lie between these extremes and which may be intense, intimate and meaningful, but at the same time fluid, ephemeral or tenuous tend to escape sociological analysis. Largely inspired by sociological phenomenology, but multi-disciplinary in nature, this paper will try to address this issue by positing ‘resonance’ as a useful concept by which sociologists and social scientists more generally, can engage with the more fluid forms of belonging and affinity achieved in everyday life contexts.

Re-Thinking the Boundaries of the Focus Group: A Reflexive Analysis on the Use and Legitimacy of Group Methodologies in Qualitative Research

Martina Angela Caretta and Elena Vacchelli
Sociological Research Online 20 (4) 13

Keywords: Focus Group Discussion, Workshop, Participation, Feminist Critical Research
Abstract: This article aims at problematizing the boundaries of what counts as focus group and in so doing it identifies some continuity between focus group and workshop, especially when it comes to arts informed and activity laden focus groups. The workshop is often marginalized as a legitimate method for qualitative data collection outside PAR (Participatory Action Research)-based methodologies. Using examples from our research projects in East Africa and in London we argue that there are areas of overlap between these two methods, yet we tend to use concepts and definitions associated with focus groups because of the lack of visibility of workshops in qualitative research methods academic literature. The article argues that focus groups and workshops present a series of intertwined features resulting in a blending of the two which needs further exploration. In problematizing the boundaries of focus groups and recognizing the increasing usage of art-based and activity-based processes for the production of qualitative data during focus groups, we argue that focus groups and workshop are increasingly converging. We use a specifically feminist epistemology in order to critically unveil the myth around the non-hierarchical nature of consensus and group interaction during focus group discussions and other multi-vocal qualitative methods and contend that more methodological research should be carried out on the workshop as a legitimate qualitative data collection technique situated outside the cycle of action research.

Beyond ‘Token’ Firefighters: Exploring Women’s Experiences of Gender and Identity at Work

Tamika Perrott
Sociological Research Online 21 (1) 4

Keywords: Work, Tokenism, Gender, Identity, Firefighting, Women
Abstract: Despite the increasing percentage of women entering masculinized workplaces, certain organizations consistently see little change in the gender makeup of their staff. Contemporary scholarship suggests that women in rigidly gendered organizations are often assigned a token status and are victimized due to their gender. This study relocates the conversations of women as tokens towards a fresh conversation of women’s agency in masculinized workplaces. This paper uses ten qualitative interviews and ethnographic fieldwork to discuss how female firefighters navigate their gender at work. This article draws on reflexive accounts of everyday gendered negotiations to look at how the female firefighters ‘do gender’ within a specific fire service in Australia. I argue that emergency services, such as firefighting, create a contradictory field where women are located in (1) a paradoxical environment where the ‘female body’ is problematized (2) a work environment where they have to repeatedly prove their cultural competence in order to confirm their professional identity. The findings suggest that while female firefighters do have agency, tokenism locates many of them in a ‘never quite there’ bind that challenges their ability to progress into leadership roles within the service. This article concludes that the nuanced difference between, and at times, within the women’s narratives problematizes the bounds of personal agency and cultural change. This consequently results in resistance to policies by some women that may benefit like-situated women, such as affirmative action.

Doing Audio-Visual Montage to Explore Time and Space: The Everyday Rhythms of Billingsgate Fish Market

Dawn Lyon
Sociological Research Online 21 (3) 12

Keywords: Atmosphere, Embodiment, Lefebvre, Rhythmanalysis, Time-Lapse Photography, Work
Abstract: This article documents, shows and analyses the everyday rhythms of Billingsgate, London’s wholesale fish market. It takes the form of a short film based an audio-visual montage of time-lapse photography and sound recordings, and a textual account of the dimensions of market life revealed by this montage. Inspired by Henri Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis, and the embodied experience of moving through and sensing the market, the film renders the elusive quality of the market and the work that takes place within it to make it happen. The composite of audio-visual recordings immerses viewers in the space and atmosphere of the market and allows us to perceive and analyse rhythms, patterns, flows, interactions, temporalities and interconnections of market work, themes that this article discusses. The film is thereby both a means of showing market life and an analytic tool for making sense of it. This article critically considers the documentation, evocation and analysis of time and space in this way.

Ambivalent Professionalisation and Autonomy in Workers’ Collective Projects: The Cases of Sex Worker Peer Educators in Germany and Sexual Assistants in Switzerland

Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and P.G. Macioti
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 10

Keywords: Sex Work, Sexual Assistance, Sex Workers Organisations, Germany, Switzerland, Quality of Work
Abstract: Drawing on participant methodologies this article examines two cases of workers’ self-organised projects oriented to improving the quality of sex work and to ‘professionalisation’. The first case is a group of sexual assistants for people with disabilities, who have organised meetings and training for sexual assistants in a medium-sized city in Switzerland. The second is a group of peer sex worker educators offering workshops to people who sell sex in various industry sectors in a large German city. We argue that these activist interventions may represent a resource for identifying crucial aspects of work-quality and professionalisation in sex work and for making sense of some apparent contradictions of sex workers’ organising. Indeed, through ongoing conversations and recommendations about working practices and ethics, our participants develop situated views of what is better sex work and they originally engage with key conceptual areas, such as consent, autonomy, standardisation, income and professional identity. They do so by comparing a variety of experiences in sex industries, as well as discussing similarities with other jobs such as body work, care work, and psychotherapy.

Transnational Social Mobility Strategies and Quality of Work Among Latin-American Women Sex Workers in Spain

Laura Oso
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 11

Keywords: Sex Work, Prostitution, Gender, Migration, Quality of Work, Latin-American Women, Transnational
Abstract: The aim of this article is to analyse the quality of work of two of the main types of female sex work in Spain (clubs and in-call flats). In order to do so I will focus on the following working dimensions: wages, power relations, skills, alienation, health, violence, work life and stigma. Firstly, the article seeks to highlight the structural factors that condition the quality of work of Latin American female sex workers in Spain. These factors are closely connected to policies regarding migration and sex work, which foment irregular work arrangements (undocumented migrants and informal workers). Secondly, I analyse entry formats (indebted or autonomous migration) and how they impact on working conditions. Thirdly, the article considers the migrant women’s work choices and the resulting living and working conditions they may encounter. I intend to show that Latin American women sex workers in Spain might opt for a certain type of work within the context of strategic decisions, as linked to their migratory and social mobility projects. These decisions have a family and a transnational scope (country of origin, country of destination). The analysis presented is based on qualitative fieldwork (semi-structured interviews) carried out in Galicia (north-west Spain).

Precarious or Protected? Evaluating Work Quality in the Legal Sex Industry

Alice Orchiston
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 12

Keywords: Commercial Sex, Brothels, Precarious Work, Autonomy, Control, Australia
Abstract: Decriminalising (or legalising) sex work is argued to improve sex workers’ safety and provide access to labour rights. However, there is a paucity of empirical research comparing how different regulatory approaches affect working conditions in the sex industry, especially in relation to venues that are managed by third parties. This article uses a mixed methods study of the Australian legal brothel sector to critically explore the relationship between external regulation and working conditions. Two dominant models of sex industry regulation are compared: decriminalisation and licensing. First, the article documents workplace practices in the Australian legal brothel sector, examining sex workers’ agency, autonomy and control over the labour process. Second, it analyses the capacity of each regulatory model to protect sex workers from unsafe and unfair working conditions. On the basis of these findings, the article concludes that brothel-based sex work is precarious and substantively excluded from the protective mantle of labour law, notwithstanding its legality. It is argued that the key determinant of conditions in the legal brothel sector is the extent to which the state enforces formal labour protections, as distinct from the underlying regulatory model adopted.

€Too Much Suffering’: Understanding the Interplay Between Migration, Bounded Exploitation and Trafficking Through Nigerian Sex Workers’ Experiences

Nicola Mai
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 13

Keywords: Migration, Sex Work, Working Conditions, Exploitation, Trafficking, Nigeria
Abstract: Migrant sex workers’ experiences of exploitation depend on a dynamic re-evaluation of the working conditions and relationships that frame their entry into the global sex industry according to the subsequent unfolding of their working and wider lives. Contrary to the essentialist obliteration of consent introduced by abolitionist scholarship and policymaking, migrants can decide to endure bounded exploitative deals with people enabling their travel and work abroad in order to meet the economic and administrative (becoming documented) objectives they set for themselves. When this deal is broken as a result of the betrayal of original negotiations, migrants can decide to reframe their migration and work experience as trafficking and denounce their original enablers as traffickers, which gives them a chance to obtain the right to reside and work in the country of destination through asylum.

Work Conditions and Job Mobility in the Australian Indoor Sex Industry

Fairleigh Evelyn Gilmour
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 14

Keywords: Sex Work, Working Conditions, Sex Work Legislation, Australia, Mobility, Decriminalisation
Abstract: This article explores sex workers’ experiences of work conditions and job mobility in the indoor sectors of the Australian sex industry: brothel work, escort work and small cooperative work. Drawing from 14 in-depth life-narrative interviews with sex workers and former sex workers, it explores the key challenges faced by participants in navigating regulation and carving out a safe and lucrative working space. It offers a critical account of job flexibility and mobility in the sex industry and argues that the availability of increased options in a decriminalized setting means a greater range of potential spaces for workers to negotiate a suitable work environment.

On Our Own Terms: The Working Conditions of Internet-Based Sex Workers in the UK

Teela Sanders, Laura Connelly and Laura Jarvis King
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 15

Keywords: Crimes, Escorts, Internet, Job Satisfaction, Prostitution, Sex Work
Abstract: The sex industry is increasingly operated through online technologies, whether this is selling services online through webcam or advertising, marketing or organising sex work through the Internet and digital technologies. Using data from a survey of 240 internet-based sex workers (members of the National Ugly Mug reporting scheme in the UK), we discuss the working conditions of this type of work. We look at the basic working patterns, trajectories and everyday experiences of doing sex work via an online medium and the impact this has on the lives of sex workers. For instance, we look at levels of control individuals have over their working conditions, prices, clientele and services sold, and discuss how this is mediated online and placed in relation to job satisfaction. The second key finding is the experience of different forms of crimes individuals are exposed to such as harassment and blackmail via the new technologies. We explore the relationship internet-based sex workers have with the police and discuss how current laws in the UK have detrimental effects in terms of safety and access to justice. These findings are placed in the context of the changing landscape of sex markets as the digital turn determines the nature of the majority of commercial sex encounters. These findings contribute significantly to the populist coercion/choice political debates by demonstrating levels and types of agency and autonomy experienced by some sex workers despite working in a criminalized, precarious and sometimes dangerous context.

New Ways of Doing the “Good” and Gender Equal Family: Parents Employing Nannies and Au Pairs in Sweden

Sara Eldén and Terese Anving
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 2

Keywords: Care Work, Parenting, Gender Equality, Au Pairs/nannies, Family Practices, Welfare State
Abstract: The last decade, Nordic families have started to employ nannies and au pairs to an extent previously never experienced. Political initiatives such as tax deductions for household services, together with global trends of “care chains”, have created a private market for care services, which have made it possible for families to hire cheap female, and often migrant, care labour. In the case of Sweden, this is an indication of a re-familializing trend in politics of care and family; a move away from a social democratic welfare regime, towards the privatized and marketized care/family solutions of other Western countries. This qualitative study of Swedish families who hire nannies/au pairs shows how the dual earner/dual carer family is being replaced by a dual earner/privately outsourced care family, a shift that requires particular forms of accounting for their practices on the part of the parents, related to the discourse of gender equality as well as narratives of what is ‘best for children’. This, we argue, indicates that gender equality and “good care” for children is increasingly becoming a class privilege.

‘I Can’t Settle if It’s Not Tidy; I Blame That on My Mum’: Exploring Women’s Relational Household Work Narratives

Jennifer Kettle
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 6

Keywords: Household Work, Identity, Motherhood, Narrative, Personal Life, Relationality
Abstract: Household work literature has highlighted the importance of mothers to their daughters’ accounts of their household work practice, arguing that women can both aim to emulate and avoid particular practices in their own household work. This paper further explores this topic, drawing on a small-scale qualitative study to explore the self-narratives that two generations of mothers construct around the theme of household work. It looks particularly at how accounts of household work practices are incorporated into broader stories of growing up and taking responsibility, and the relevance of discourses of individualisation, and the notion of reflexive biographies to these explanations. This article also draws on theories of connectedness to show how self-narratives around the theme of household work reflect different forms of relationality, and to argue that a concept of relational selves is useful for making sense of these narratives.

Quality of Work in Prostitution and Sex Work. Introduction to the Special Section

Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso
Sociological Research Online 21 (4) 9

Keywords: Prostitution, Sex Work, Quality of Work
Abstract: [No abstract]

The Contribution of Mothers’ Employment on Their Family’s Chances of Ending Welfare Benefit Receipt in Germany. Analysis of a Two-Stage Process

Torsten Lietzmann
Sociological Research Online 22 (2) 7

Keywords: Poverty, Welfare Benefit Receipt, Reconciliation of Work and Family, Employment, Single Mothers, Event History Analysis
Abstract: The following article investigates to what extent individual employment of mothers contributes to ending receipt of welfare benefits in Germany. It disentangles the process of an employment-related exit into two stages: first, the process of taking up employment and second, the probability of ending benefit receipt with this new employment. This analysis focuses on mothers because they face particular restrictions on their labour market behaviour. It identifies the determinants involved using event history and probit models on the basis of longitudinal administrative data on benefit receipt and employment. Whereas the time and effort spent on childcare based on the age of the youngest child only influences the taking up of employment, household size plays a role only for the probability of ending benefit receipt. The individual labour market resources of the mothers influence access to the labour market, whereas for exits from benefit receipt the job position and type of employment relationship are more decisive.

The Experience of Zulu (Military) Time: An Examination of the Temporal Practices and Perceptions of UK Infantry

John Hockey
Sociological Research Online ()

Keywords: Ethnography, Military, Organizations, Time, Sociology, Workers
Abstract: Organizational time remains an under examined research area in terms of analysis which combines workers temporal perceptions, temporal embodiment and temporal inter-embodiment. These processes are portrayed using the case of the military organization and focus upon the temporal practices of UK infantry via ethnographic data obtained from participant observation.

Culture is a Meritocracy: Why Creative Workers’ Attitudes May Reinforce Social Inequality

Mark Taylor and Dave O'Brien
Sociological Research Online ()

Keywords: Cultural Workers, Principal Components Analysis, Inequality, Attitudes, Meritocracy
Abstract: The attitudes and values of cultural and creative workers are an important element of explaining current academic interest in inequality and culture. To date quantitative approaches to this element of cultural and creative inequality has been overlooked, particularly in British research. This paper investigates the attitudes of those working in creative jobs with a unique dataset, a web survey of creative workers’ attitudes (n=2487). Using principal components analysis and regression, we have three main findings. First, in contrast to Richard Florida's thesis on the attitudes and values of ’the creative class’, our respondents’ attitudes were no more meritocratic than those of the general population. Second, those with the strongest belief in meritocracy in the sector are those in the most privileged positions, specifically those are best-rewarded by the sector. Third, our research provides support for existing qualitative research on attitudes in the cultural sector, in which worse-rewarded workers are most aware of structural inequality. We conclude that the attitudes held by creative workers, and who holds which attitudes, make it unlikely that access to the sector and trajectories of individual progression within the sector will change. These findings also have important implications for current public interest in whether access to creative work is limited to those from privileged backgrounds.